Neal's shooting helps OU hold off Texas Tech

Oklahoma nearly blew a 20-point halftime lead, but junior college transfer Michael Neal (pictured above) saved the day with four 3-pointers in the final five minutes to help the Sooners hold off Tech, 60-48 win. (AP Photo/Ty Russell)

Norman, Okla. — Welcome back Michael Neal.

After missing several games and being limited in several others while nursuing injuries, the junior college transfer from Texas showed the Sooners what they had been missing in OU's 60-48 win over Texas Tech Saturday in Norman.

Neal, who came off the bench to lead the Sooners with 15 points in just 21 minutes of action, hit four-3 pointers in the final five minutes of the game to help Oklahoma stave off Texas Tech's comeback attempt.

"I was just taking what the defense gave me and I made sure to hit my open shots," said Neal. "Austin Johnson and I have been getting up at 7:30 every morning to shoot for an hour and get our shot ready for games like this. I knew that I had to hit my open shots."

Oklahoma jumped out to a quick 16-2 lead seven minutes and 18 seconds into the game and eventually stretched the lead to 32-12 at the half, but the Red Raiders woke up in the second half and eventually cut the Sooners' lead to 40-38 with 8:24 to go in the game.

The Sooners answered with an 8-2 run, and then Neal scored the last 12 points of the game for OU, all on 3-pointers, to put the Red Raiders away for good.

"Oklahoma deserves a lot of credit when the score was 40-38," said Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight. "The next score I remember was 45-38. All of a sudden we're down 10 or 12. Unfortunately for us, they had the beginning and the end, and we had the middle."

Joining Neal in double figures were Austin Johnson and Terrell Everett, both of which combined for 14 points in OU's 16-2 run to begin the game. Everett finished with 11 points and eight assists, while Johnson added 10.

Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout were both held under double figures, but the duo combined for 22 rebounds as OU won the rebounding war 38-23.

True freshman Taylor Griffin also had a nice effort off the bench scoring six points and grabbing four rebounds along with one blocked shot and two steals in 16 minutes.

Oklahoma's 2-3 zone defense was also solid, holding the Red Raiders to 39 percent shooting for the game and just 5-for-21 in the first half.

Tech's 12 first half points were its lowest total in a half for the season, as well as the lowest allowed during Kelvin Sampson's tenure in Norman.

"We played really well the first 20 minutes and really well the last couple of minutes," said Sampson. "But the beginning of the second half was a little shaky. Our 2-3 zone worked for us during the first half, but we got a little out of sync the second half and struggled for a while.

"Basketball can easy be an easy game or a hard game. We made it look really easy the first half but hard the second half. We are going to keep working, keep improving and hopefully keep winning games."

With the win, the Sooners improved to 11-4 overall and 2-2 in Big 12 play. Tech falls to 10-9 overall and 2-3 in conference action.

Oklahoma will travel to Waco, Texas for a must-win road game on Wednesday against Baylor.

OU-Texas Tech Box Score

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